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Want to know a secret?

A sparkling game of hide and seek is re-enacted in these secret watches masquerading as butterflies, flowers and even a clutch bag.

7 May 2016 |

Secret watches are the sirens of the watch world, enchanting women with their dazzling exteriors and intriguing secrets. Popular from the 1930s-1950s, secret watches are enjoying a renaissance today as a luxury statement of individual style.

As the ultimate alliance between the worlds of watchmaking and jewellery, secret watches revel in the luxury of hiding time. Whether tucked inside an elegant clutch bag or ticking quietly under the sapphire wings of a butterfly, the creativity and imagination that go into hiding the dials of these furtive watches never fails to amaze.

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Harry Winston’s jazzy gemstones recreate the city of New York, while the time is hidden under the onyx clasp (POA). 

Harry Winston and the city of New York go hand in hand, so when the legendary “king of diamonds” unveiled its jaw-dropping secret diamond watch at Baselworld this year, no surprises for guessing where the inspiration was drawn from. The New York Companion is a highly original clutch, or minaudière, inspired by the vibrant tempo of the city that doesn’t sleep. Recreating a geometric cityscape at night, red and green traffic lights in emeralds and rubies flash against the black lacquered background, while a dazzling diamond pompom, fashioned like a New York skyscraper, sways in the centre of the scenery. Designed to fit in the palm of your hand, the black onyx stone crowning the skyscraper doubles up as the clasp of the evening bag, which is kitted out with two mirrors but also hides a precious secret. By swivelling the black onyx cover, a tiny timepiece is revealed to let you consult the New York hours and minutes. In addition to the syncopated arrangement of the emeralds and rubies, 36.67cts of diamonds light up these Harry Winston watches as well as your nights on the town.

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Chaumet’s Hortensia secret watch is brought to life with diamonds, sapphires, tourmalines and opals (POA).

From New York to Paris, the history of Chaumet is entwined with the history of France and has adorned royal celebrities throughout the centuries, including style icon Empress Joséphine. Nature is a constant source of inspiration at the Maison, and flowers of the wild and cultivated kind are often used in its sophisticated diamond watches. Chaumet has chosen the Hortensia, or hydrangea flower, as a floral muse for its high jewellery and watch collection of the same name. The flower pays homage to Hortense Bonaparte, daughter of Empress Joséphine, and in these miniature Chaumet watches, hydrangeas decorate the cover, while the bouquet hiding the dial is made from an artistic cluster of diamonds, sapphires, tourmalines and opals. A prominent diamond at 9 o’clock releases the bouquet and reveals the dainty mother-of-pearl dial with four diamond indices and a diamond-set bezel.

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Graff’s Princess Butterfly watch has a diamond-set mechanism so the wings can slide and reveal the dial ($135,000). 

Butterflies are extremely popular insects in the world of high jewellery and here they have fluttered over to the realm of watchmaking to decorate the dials of these Graff watches. The Graff Princess Butterfly takes this creature and its ability for transformation to new heights by using the shape of the wings to create this magnificent secret watch. The blue sapphire butterfly perches on your wrist like a beautiful bracelet, until its plump pavé wings are separated to reveal the 17mm dial set with blue mother-of-pearl and a baguette-cut diamond bezel. This transformable piece of high jewellery required advanced 3D technology to map the curves and contours of the wings, set with a mix of pavé-set sapphires and tapered baguette sapphires, but what is truly remarkable is the innovative diamond-set mechanism that allows the wings to slide to one side and reveal the dial.  

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